“Aren’t there enough craft breweries in Toronto?”
Our city certainly isn’t suffering from a shortage of places to grab a pint. Still, we couldn’t be prouder to be part of a large and growing community of craft breweries in the city. The more the merrier, after all! That being said, Avling’s founder knew that he wanted to go beyond the typical craft brewery template to provide a space that celebrates and improves upon what we think of as Canadian food and beer. To that end, he took inspiration from cities that have shaped his career to design a local craft brewery that combines international influences with what he loves most about our city.
Having cooked at Canoe in Toronto, Max had a pretty good idea of how things are done at a high-end restaurant—until he took a job at Joe Beef, a steak house known for throwing out the stuffy, white table cloth air of fine dining in favour of a pure enjoyment of food with a dash of excess. As a cook at Joe Beef, Max was held to the same exacting standards that would be expected in the world’s top kitchens, but there was a different energy coursing through the restaurant—an intangible joie de vivre that’s unmistakable across the city’s restaurant scene. Whether kicking back at a local Irish pub, hanging outside the Orange Julep in the summer or indulging in a culinary experience at one of the city’s Relais & Chateux establishments, Montrealers savour and rejoice in food and drink whenever they can.
Merry ol’ London Town may seem prim and proper, but in the city’s East End, anything goes. Max got to know both versions of the city while living and working there for a few years. At night, he cooked at London’s top restaurants, learning how expertly run kitchens with the highest standards earned and kept their Michelin stars. By day, he soaked up the eclectic energy of Shoreditch, an up-and-coming neighbourhood where markets and urban farms thrived on graffiti-lined streets. In Shoreditch, Max came across the newly opened craft breweries in the neighbourhood. Helmed by German brewers tired of the restrictive brewing laws back home, these new establishments were fuelled by creativity, experimentation and an infectious community-minded spirit that developed into an inspiring craft-brewing scene.
When it came to creating our space, we were inspired by the modern, minimalist approach to design that Denmark has perfected. Copenhagen is pretty much a design geek’s dream, but it has also become a centre of world gastronomy in recent years. The city’s culinary reputation wasn’t always stellar—formerly characterized by overcooked potatoes and pungent fish—but when Noma opened, it reinvigorated the Nordic culinary scene with its focus on highlighting and elevating locally sourced ingredients. Now both the restaurant and region are synonymous with creative dishes that focus on transforming fresh, local ingredients using traditional techniques.
Like the chefs in Copenhagen, we believe that the best food begins with local ingredients. Canadian food, in our opinion, should reflect our seasons, landscape and cultural diversity—and the same goes for our beer. An IPA flavoured with exotic ingredients may be delicious, but we want our beer to be authentically Canadian and as local as possible, using seasonal ingredients that we can grow on our roof or get from our friends at local farms.
“Avling” is the Norwegian word for crop and harvest, and we like to think that it embodies the spirit of how Avling came to be, gathering elements from all of these cities, and bringing them back home to create our own unique version of a Toronto craft brewery and restaurant.